A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Themes of courage and teamwork are demonstrated in the way characters work together to find answers and change a negative outcome.
Positive Role Models
Ashley is a brave, strong teen, but we don't get to know much about her. Her Uncle Jack is reliable and brave, perhaps the movie's best role model. Other characters are underdeveloped, including Ashley's parents.
Violence & Scariness
The murder of a family, including a teen, is at center of movie; viewers see these, other killings happen on-screen (camera cuts away before bullets hit, but we see blood, hear gunfire), including scenes in which teen cowers in her bedroom trying to escape gunman and when a character is suddenly, unexpectedly shot from a distance. Dead bodies are shown at length -- one with gory head wound. Body of the teen girl has face obscured, no gory wounds visible, though blood soaks area around her. Characters are in constant mortal danger. Many scenes are tense; characters are chased or trying to sneak through areas unnoticed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Affectionate kisses and cuddling between a married couple.
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Language is infrequent but includes "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "pr--k," "crap," "oh God," and "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some type of powdery drug sets the plot in motion, though viewers never see any characters using drugs. They do drink in moments of stress and celebration. References to one character having a problem with drinking and drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Don't Let Go is a thriller with sci-fi elements about a teenage girl named Ashley (Storm Reid) and her uncle Jack (David Oyelowo), who somehow gain the ability to talk to each other during different moments in time after she and her parents are mysteriously murdered. Expect violence and death, with multiple views of the same awful incident unfolding in real time, as well as a gory crime scene and graphic photos. Blood spatters and pools, and there's gore on the back of one character's head after he's been shot. Characters are also shot on-screen (the camera usually but doesn't always cut away at the moment of impact), including a teen girl who cowers, terrified, in her bedroom before being killed. Viewers see her dead body, but her face is usually obscured, and there's no gore. Drugs are an element of the plot, though no one is shown using them. Characters drink in times of stress, and one is said to have a drinking/drug problem. Language isn't frequent but includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. A black family anchors this drama, and a black teen girl is the heroine, which is relatively rare for thrillers. Ashley is a strong, brave character, as is Jack, and they demonstrate great teamwork, but we don't get to know much about their lives before or after the movie's events, nor are other characters fleshed out. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Reid and Oyelowo deliver fantastic performances, but the movie's cool sci-fi premise is mostly squandered with blah visuals and an undercooked police corruption subplot. The best part of Don't Let Go is the connection between Jack and Ashley and Jack's quickly mounting terror as he gets his strange phone call from beyond and starts scrambling to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Unfortunately, the way that puzzle comes together is far less satisfying. The movie spends almost no time depicting the relationship between Jack and Ashley's dad/Jack's troubled brother (Brian Tyree Henry) or between Ashley and her parents, so the murders -- which should be the most horrifying event in the movie -- lack a certain dramatic weight. And it's definitely hard to figure out (and even harder to care) just why they were killed, though viewers will hazily understand it has something to do with betrayal and a white-powder drug.
Meanwhile, the film seems to have plenty of time to watch Ashley pedaling around on her bicycle (the L.A. scenery is nice and occasionally atmospheric, but when it crowds out plot, viewers might wonder why) and for the phone calls between her and Jack. Oyelowo and Reid act up a storm (get it?) during these scenes, and it's refreshing to see a thriller that acknowledges how much smartphones have changed cinematic stakes -- it sure is hard to believably strand a movie character these days -- and uses them as an integral element in the plot. But it's also frustrating that for characters who rely so much on their phones to communicate, Jack and Ashley don't seem to know how to use them. Really, they resort to communicating on napkins and with gumballs rather than by snapping pictures of clues and proof for each other to find? It feels not-thought-out, as does much of this featherweight thriller.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.